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Officials leery of request to extend two-hour parking
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It appears there will be no exceptions to the two-hour parking limit on Main Street for patrons of hair salons and barber shops.
McMinnville Safety Committee members Mike Neal, chairman, Rick Barnes and Ken Smith met Tuesday night to discuss a request from Main Street McMinnville to allow for parking passes or parking validation for those businesses to use because the two-hour parking limit creates a particular inconvenience to them in the operation of their businesses.
Main Street McMinnville co-director Brook Holmes says close to 75 percent of the customers to Vanessa’s Place, a beauty shop located across the street from McMinnville Fire Department, are there in excess of two hours.
“Her patrons have to leave in the middle of their visit to go move their cars in an effort to avoid getting a parking ticket,” said Holmes. “This is posing a problem for her so we are trying to help her out with it.”
Vanessa Dyer, owner of the shop, says the lengthy appointments are for chemical treatments of coloring or perms and some of those patrons prefer to set their appointments with family members and friends which makes the visit twice as long.
“Our customers will come two at a time,” said Dyer. “Sisters come together, so that’s even double that appointment time in a single parking spot. We had one client, and she and her sister came together. On her very first visit, they were there longer than two hours getting her hair done and they got a parking ticket. That doesn’t look good on business. I don’t really have the time to keep a timer set to say ‘Oh, you need to go move your vehicle over one space’ when it does not affect other parking at all.”
Dyer says she can’t offer to move the vehicles for her patrons due to assuming the liability if anything were to happen and most patrons do not like going outside during treatments because someone might see them.
“I spoke to the meter maid, for lack of the politically correct term on that, and she suggested they come out and move their vehicles,” said Dyer. “A lot of people don’t even like sitting inside and people seeing them with color on their hair or foil in their hair or rollers in their hair, much less walking out onto the street to move their vehicles one space.”
Mayor Jimmy Haley asked if off-street parking is available on the side of the building.
Dyer responded, “Most of the time, no. While I believe the owner of the building, Todd (Hutchings), has those spaces, the tenants upstairs are parked there and there are only two spaces that I am aware of.”
Interim city administrator Bill Brock says he took a look at the property and there is enough room around the property for private parking spaces if the owner wanted to designate spaces for his tenants. 
“Todd does own below the loading dock. He owns a lot of property there. What I would suggest is that Todd could make some parking places there for his renters and label it such,” said Brock.
Dyer says labeled parking spaces are only effective if the area is patrolled because people will ignore the restriction and park there anyway.
There are parking lots behind the businesses on the right side of Main Street – beside the water tower, around the Farmers Market, and behind the Warren County Chamber of Commerce building. The lots were built during the time of Urban Renewal. Parking there is free and there are no time restrains on length of stay.
Newman questioned if Dyer’s patrons could park beside the water tower and walk from there.
Dyer replied, “There are, but when you go to Walmart do you park at the end of the parking lot?”
“I go to the courthouse a lot,” said Newman. “I get a lot of tickets. If I don’t want tickets, I park behind the Chamber of Commerce and walk to the courthouse.”
Smith says allowing some patrons to park longer than two hours will be detrimental to other businesses. Individuals staying longer than two hours need to use the free parking lots, he said.
“Every time someone parks for two hours, that keeps someone else from parking in that spot,” he said. “Maybe someone else will just use the spot for 15 minutes. If we go ahead and permit over two-hour parking, then someone can sit in front of Mike Neal’s store all day long and he might miss out on some sales. The whole idea behind Urban Renewal was to create parking so people could park there and walk to the business.”
Smith asked McMinnville Police Chief Bryan Denton to determine the distance from the parking lot. According to Denton, it took less than a minute to walk.
“It took 42 seconds. I timed it,” he said. “That was actually to the sidewalk. It’s a perception thing. Downtown parking has been an issue since I set foot in the department. It is everywhere you go. I certainly understand the dilemma. I think what she is asking is for her business to be favored over another. I can see myself in Tim Pirtle’s office getting a will drawn up and it taking three hours. I can see myself at Tommy Foster’s office trying to close on a loan and being there for three hours. I think we are asking for trouble when we favor one business over another.”
Barnes added, “If we lift the two-hour ban, I think we should do it city-wide. If we aren’t going to do it city-wide, then don’t do it.”
The committee adjourned, making no final determination on Main Street McMinnville’s request.
A single parking ticket is $6. However, if the vehicle remains unmoved during the day, a second ticket is $11 and a third ticket is $16.